Why prep your cake pan? We asked Shirley O. Corriher, author of Bake Wise (Scribner, 2008), to give us the science behind greasing and flouring.
When you put a cake in the oven, Corriher said, the heat unravels the batter's proteins and then coagulates them over time. In an untreated pan, they stick to surfaces like glue. Greasing puts a barrier between the batter and pan, so that the proteins form in a solid mass without latching onto other surfaces. Flouring protects the fat from dissolving into the batter. Another step is to use a baking stone: It will heat the cake pan quickly, hastening protein coagulation and helping to prevent sticking.